Ann Kockler no doubt had a lot of wonderful teachers over the years — teachers who encouraged her, inspired her and set an example of caring for students. But the one teacher who ultimately convinced her to follow a career in education came from a rather unusual source.
He came home with her every night and woke to the sunlight with her every morning.
“My husband was instrumental in getting me to go back to school. He felt it was really important for me to finish my education,” Kockler recalls. “He was a first-year teacher at the high school, and I’m so glad that he did encourage me — I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
A 1985 graduate of Algona Garrigan High School, Kockler started out attending Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge before marriage and a growing family came along. She worked a few different jobs, but was most happy to stay home and focus on raising her children.
With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine that her husband saw that this love of being with children would make for a great teacher. With his encouragement, she went to back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University in Mason City.
Kockler is now in her 12th year at Clear Creek Elementary School and still looks forward to coming to school every morning.
“The kids are awesome; they’re so energetic,” she says. “They come with such a willingness to learn and put so much trust in their teachers.”
Kockler spent a few years at the fourth and fifth grade levels, but says she’s found her true niche with first graders.
“It’s a thrill for me helping them learn to read,” she says.
Today’s first graders come in to her classroom with a wide range of abilities. Some are already fluent readers, some struggle to recognize letters and numbers. By the end of the year, it’s her goal that each one of them is reading at a level to put them on the road to success.
Her favorite part of the day is simply reading to kids, helping them see how much fun reading can be, hopefully inspiring a lifelong love of literature. After all, you never know where encouragement might come from.